BIG COVID RELIEF FOR INDIA AS NINE EUROPEAN NATIONS OKAY COVISHIELD - The Daily Guardian
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BIG COVID RELIEF FOR INDIA AS NINE EUROPEAN NATIONS OKAY COVISHIELD

These countries include Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Estonia and Switzerland. India, meanwhile, logs 48,786 new coronavirus cases.

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In a big win for India, nine European countries have cleared Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, amid a row over vaccines accepted for a “Green Passport” allowing free travel in the region. These countries include Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Estonia and Switzerland.

Under the Green Passport, people who have received vaccines authorised by the European Medical Agency (EMA) will be exempted from travel restrictions inside the 27-member European Union. The EMA, the EU’s top medical body, has approved only four vaccines so far and Covishield and Covaxin are not on the list.

The induction of Covishield in the Green Passport has come as a major respite for many Indians wanting to go to Europe. The European Union has started the Green Pass system from 1 July.

However, the EU has made it clear that “member states may decide to extend this (the certificate) also to EU travellers that received another vaccine”.

Under these rules, Indians, who have been inoculated with Covishield or Covaxin, may be subject to quarantine if they travel to the EU nations, unless these vaccines are cleared by the respective countries.

The softening in EU’ stance may be attributed to displeasure shown by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) over travel hassles faced by Indians in the pandemic era.  

On Wednesday, sources in the MEA said that India will begin a reciprocal policy when it comes to exemption from quarantine. This would mean that unless the European Union accepts those vaccinated with Covishield and Covaxin, people from the EU will also face mandatory quarantine upon arrival in India.

India’s first approved Covid vaccine, Covishield, is manufactured in India by Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker. Covishield was approved by the Central government for emergency use in February. Of the three vaccines available so far, India has inoculated the maximum number of people with Covishield only. So far, out of the total 33 crore jabs given in the country, the Covishield vaccine has been administered to more than 28 crore people.

On the other hand, Covaxin, India’s only indigenous vaccine, has not yet received WHO approval. Therefore, it has not applied for EMA authorisation. Sputnik V and Moderna are the other two vaccines which are approved for use in India and by the WHO.

In the meantime, new Covid-19 cases saw another jump on Thursday with 48,786 more people testing positive in the last 24 hours, said the Union health ministry. The number stood at 45,951 the previous day. With the addition of new infections, the cumulative tally has reached 30,411,634. Further, the number of new fatalities has gone upwards too as 1,005 succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours. The death toll due to coronavirus in India now stands at 399,459.

On the brighter side, daily recoveries outnumbered fresh infections for the 49th day straight with 61,588 people getting discharged between Wednesday and Thursday. This took the total number of discharges to 2,94,88,918. As a result, the active tally has fallen to 5,23,257, declining by 13,807 and constitutes 1.72% of the total infections.

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MACRON CALLS BENNETT ON ALLEGATIONS OF SNOOPING

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JERUSALEM: According to a media report, French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken to Israeli PM Naftali Bennett regarding reports that Morocco’s security forces may have used the Pegasus spyware to snoop on his cellphones,.

A global media consortium last week reported that 50,000 cellphone numbers were being spied on using the Pegasus malware, which has been developed by Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group. The mobile phones of French President Macron and 15 members of his government may have been among potential targets, according to a member of the media consortium.

Macron called Bennett on Thursday and asked him to ensure that “the issue was being taken seriously”, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Saturday evening. The Israeli PM said that the allegations are from a period when he had not assumed office but assured that the required conclusions on the matter will be reached upon. Macron had called an urgent national security meeting on Thursday to discuss the Pegasus spyware after reports about its misuse in France emerged.

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IN A FIRST, SAUDI WOMEN STAND GUARD IN MECCA

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MECCA: Dozens of female soldiers have become a part of the security services that monitor pilgrims in Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam. This is a significant stride towards women empowerment.

For the first time, Saudi female soldiers are standing guard in Mecca as thousands of Muslim pilgrims take part in this year’s Hajj, as per Deutsche Welle report.

Women dressed in military khaki uniforms were seen monitoring the security situation in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Along with khaki, they were sporting a hip-length jacket, loose trousers, and a black beret over a veil covering their hair. While adhering to Covid-19 protocols, thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims gathered at Mecca to perform Hajj.

According to Al Jazeera, 10,000 vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca last Sunday, but remained socially distanced and wore masks as the Coronavirus takes its toll on the Hajj for a second year running.

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63 dead, 5 missing in China’s flood-hit Henan

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HENAN: The death toll from the heavy rains and floods that hit China’s central province of Henan has risen to 63, while five people remain missing as of Sunday.

More than 852,000 people were relocated. Some 876.6 thousand hectares of crops were affected and 24,474 houses collapsed, reported Global Times. Torrential rains have battered Henan province since last weekend. Several videos surfaced on social media showing the severity of the flooding.

Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of 12 million people, is one of the worst-hit areas.

Zhengzhou’s meteorological station has described the level of rainfall as “once in a thousand years.”

Henan’s water resources department, meanwhile, has called rain levels in parts of the province “once in 5,000 years.”

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XI JINPING MEETS TOP MILITARY OFFICIALS IN LHASA

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, 68, made his first official visit to Tibet from Wednesday to Friday. But his important visit was kept under wraps by China’s official media till the end of the tour on Friday due to the sensitivities of the trip.

Xi underlined the importance of long-term stability and prosperity in Tibet during a meeting with top military officials in Lhasa, the state media reported on Saturday, a day after he made aunannounced visit to the strategically important region, including to Nyingchi, a town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh.

Xi, who is also General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, met top officials of the Tibet Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army, guarding China’s border with India in Arunachal Pradesh, and also called for “fully strengthening the work of training soldiers and war preparation,” as per the CPC-run tabloid Global Times report.

As part of his trip, he first went to Nyingchi, a strategically located town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh. On Thursday, Xi went to Nyingchi Railway Station. It was the first time in recent years, a top Chinese leader visited the Tibetan border town. From there he went to the provincial capital Lhasa by the recently launched high-speed train.

He wound up his visit to the politically sensitive Himalayan region on Friday by meeting “representatives of troops stationed in Tibet”.

“Xi met with representatives of troops stationed in Tibet, calling for efforts to strengthen military training and preparedness in all aspects and make contributions to the lasting stability, prosperity and development of Tibet,” as per the state-run Xinhua news agency report.

However, the Global Times said that Xi, in his meeting with the PLA representatives, stressed “the local troops should fully strengthen the work of training soldiers and war preparation and contribute positive strength to promote the long-term stability and prosperity of Tibet”.

Xi’s first visit to Tibet took place amidst the current India-China military tensions in eastern Ladakh.

According to Xinhua, Xi visited the Tibet Autonomous Region in connection with the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s “peaceful liberation the first time in the history of the Party and the country.”

He extended congratulations to the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation, visited officials and ordinary people of various ethnic groups and conveyed the CPC Central Committee’s care to them, the report said.

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CHINA DISMANTLING PEACE IN AFGHAN BY COLLUDING WITH PAK, TALIBAN: COLUMNIST

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New Delhi: A columnist from Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Ganderbali, on Sunday, blamed China for dismantling peace in Afghanistan by collaborating with Pakistan and supporting the Taliban. Ganderbali tweeted,“China is trying to dismantle peace in the region by collaborating With Pakistan and supporting Taliban, all this at a time when peace and civilian rule of democracy was getting restored in the great nation of Afghanistan. The adventures of Pak-China will kill stability for Afghan.” He often writes in a Pakistani Newspaper Pakistan Christian Post highlighting the plights of the Christian minority in the country. Ganderbali is also the founder of Peace and Justice Forum.

With the US troops’ drawdown from Afghanistan on the verge of completion, a new terror axis is emerging in the Afghan-Pak geopolitical theatre with the convergence of interests between Pakistan and China. Amid the Taliban’s increasing grip over Afghanistan, Pakistan has dropped all pretensions of being an ally of the US led-western countries despite the much-needed American safety net on key issues that have a direct impact on its economy, wrote Fabien Baussart in The Times of Israel.

“We will no longer allow China’s Uyghur separatist fighters (from Xinjiang),” Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a widely circulated interview. Taliban spokesperson admitted that some Uyghur had previously sought refuge in Afghanistan. He, however, promised not to host them.

According to Baussart, the Taliban can be as duplicitous as their patrons. “Well, China may hope to leverage its money power against any likelihood of a breach in the promise by the Taliban; such a hope, even after its Pakistan experience, exposes its inability not to look beyond the nose.” From all accounts, he stated that China seeks to fill the unfolding void in Afghanistan. “It is ready with cash and weapons that the Taliban may need in case the nationalist forces try to checkmate its expansion within the country.”

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INDIA AND PAKISTAN NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO RESOLVE BILATERAL ISSUES: US

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WASHINGTON: The United States has said that India and Pakistan need to work with each other to resolve their bilateral issues, observing that it had always encouraged the two neighbours to build a more stable relationship going forward. “With regard to India-Pakistan, I would just note that we strongly believe that India and Pakistan’s issues are ones for them to work out between themselves,” .

During a conference call on Friday, Dean Thompson, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs told reporters, “We are pleased to see that the ceasefire that went into place earlier this year is — has remained intact, and we certainly always encourage them to continue their efforts to find ways to build a more stable relationship going forward.” Thompson said this in response to a question. —Correspondent

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